Nothing is more time capsule-y than the fads and passing fashions of another era. When big toy, clothing, or cultural crazes happen, in the moment they seem like the greatest, freshest thing ever, as if nobody has the foresight to know we will all collectively get bored with it a few months later and move on to the next thing. (Fads still happen today—you probably haven’t seen a kid with a fidget spinner in, what, six months?) Here are all the most 1998 things about life in the year 1998.
Long before Amazon Echo and Google Home, this Gremlin-looking little toy listened to everything you said and spouted back gibberish.
2. Belly shirts.
If Britney Spears wore it, we wanted to wear it, too.
3. Giant chunky heels.
If the Spice Girls wore it, we wanted to wear it, too.
4. Bucket hats.
For some reason, cool guys like your older brother and that guy from the New Radicals wore hats that made them look like old fishermen.
5. The Taco Bell Chihuahua.
Looking back, this advertising mascot was a little problematic. 1. A dog that wants to eat Taco Bell isn’t a great look for Taco Bell—dogs will eat anything, up to an including their own vomit, and 2. It’s super racist.
6. Hamster Dance.
The Internet was just starting to go mainstream, so it was a tremendous novelty. So much information and communication available at your fingertips! Or, you could go to Hamster Dance and watch cartoon hamsters jerk around the screen while silly music played.
What with multiple TV shows, video games, and Pokémon Go, the cultural phenomenon of making imaginary Japanese pet-monsters fight each other never really went away. But it first hit big in 1998 with two Game Boy games: Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue.
8. Swing dancing.
In the musical black hole after the death of grunge (and grunge fashion) in the mid-‘90s, but before the era boy bands and teen blonde girl singers began, America briefly got really into Neo-swing. Bands like the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy encouraged millions to sign up for dance lessons so they could throw each other around the dance floor while they wore clothes their grandparents wore.
9. Inflatable furniture.
It was a relatively cheap way to decorate your cool teen bedroom or dorm room: brightly-colored plastic chairs and couches made out of the same stuff as a pool floaty.
10. Butterfly clips.
Barrettes weren’t cool in 1998. Barrettes shaped like tiny pink and purple butterflies, however, were as cool as Sugar Ray.